The Beauty Experiment is a true story about the simple, honest, and pretty hilarious Phoebe Baker. After having a baby and re-locating to Hong Kong she first sought refuge in the mall, buying beauty pick-me-ups for comfort. But she soon realized there was something deeper to self worth than a pretty dress and new mascara. Enter in her year long radical experiment that revealed surprising insights into her marriage, her family and herself. (source)
About The Beauty Experiment by Phoebe Baker Hyde: I looked at my reflection and despaired. As an exhausted young mother I felt ugly and saw that a new dress or face cream would never help. I was at risk of passing on a habit of feeling miserable about my looks to my baby girl—if nothing changed.
Soon afterward Phoebe Baker Hyde made a vow: to give up new clothes, makeup, haircuts, and jewelry in hopes of revealing something she had always paid lip service to but never quite believed in—her inner beauty. The Beauty Experiment chronicles Hyde’s quest for self-acceptance in nothing but her own skin. In thoughtful, exquisite prose, Hyde holds up a mirror to all women and shows how perfectionism can keep us from achieving what we really want: happiness, confidence, and serenity.
I was skeptical about this read at first. I’m a pretty simple girl. I don’t shop…like ever, I wear cheap makeup, I get my haircut bi-annually. And I for sure never pay for any fancy nails or beauty treatments.
But apparently I am NOT the majority on this. The salon industry ALONE makes on average 21 BILLION dollars a year (yes I said BILLIONS) and that doesn’t even include makeup, clothing, jewelry, or even plastic surgery!
Beauty is big business. And it’s no wonder with the emphasis our culture puts on being…and staying young and beautiful. Even when our REAL life is full of chasing children, wiping floors, and car pools. A product promising to make us beautiful sells in a heartbeat!
Her blog provides a beauty wealth calculator where you can figure out how much a year you personally spend on beauty. Mine was pretty low at $200 but I mean sheesh that is still $200!!
I am certainly not immune to caring what I look like. I too have an “inner voice” as she calls it telling me that shirt doesn’t look right, I need more concealer and, if only my abs were tighter.
Phoebe embarks in several beauty experiments and chronicles what she learns along the way. She also challenges her readers to have a beauty experiment of their own by trying out one of the below
1. Identify your major cosmetic crutch and go without it for two weeks, noticing any changes. I think it takes about two weeks to really start feeling positive results, whereas negative ones start in one week!2. When in need of a new garment, go shopping without money and enjoy the “costume box approach” to the world’s malls. Then go back to the same stores a second time and purchase any items you still want/remember. Gauge how your habits and shopping experience shifted.3. Cover all but a small section of the bathroom mirror in your house for a week. Take notes on any changes, particularly interruptions of mental flow.
Inner Voice Activities:
1. Transcribe a recent inner conflict you’ve had as if it were two separate people arguing in dialogue. Label these voices “Me” and “Argumentative Inner Voice.” Then, write out a monologue featuring the AIV riffing on the problem, as if or she could hold forth without limit. Afterward answer a few questions about that inner voice: What is it afraid of? What are it’s survival strategies? What does it want to protect you from?
2. Draw a timeline chronicling the development of this inner voice, adding all the influences that have combined to form it over the years. Start as a tiny girl and go all the way to now. What “injuries” or setbacks has this inner voice suffered?
3. Write a love letter to your inner voice, explaining that you find him or her useful and appreciate the help, but would like to reframe your relationship. Explain how.
It’s amazing how these simple experiments can help open your eyes to what is truly important and loving the real you.
In short I think this is a great read and resonates with women everywhere.
About Phoebe Baker Hyde
Phoebe Baker Hyde has written on self, place and culture for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Salon.com, and The Wall Street Journal. She holds degrees in Anthropology and English from the University of Pennsylvania and Master of Fine Arts in writing from University of California at Irvine. She currently lectures and teaches in Boston.
Thanks TLC book tours for letting me be a part of this review!